I thought i'd share my story and post op result with the forum as I found forums such as this helpful in deciding which surgeon I should pick.
My hair started receeding at 14 and it was quite severe in the temples and at the front, it was very difficult at the time being a teenager and by the time I reached 18 I decided to see a doctor about it who referred me to a hair clinic in London. The doctor there said I would be completely bald by the time I was 30 and upon hearing that I fainted to the floor. Coming around a nurse said kindly I still looked attractive but I did not feel it. I asked to be referred to a hair transplant surgeon. They were a little surprised but referred me to what they classed as a top surgeon in London. My mother came with me to discuss it and the surgeon seemed a little cautious due to my age and future receeding but I said I wanted it done. He gave me two sessions of 1200 and 800 grafts (9 months later) and put me on propecia. At the time I was happy with the result as I had hair where there was none, but it was still very thin and spaced between each hair and as a result i've always had to have a big fringe down to my eyebrows to cover it up. I lived this way for 10 years and always had to be careful in high winds or if someone touched my hair not for my transplant to be revealed, which is more difficult than you can imagine.
Although some people liked my hair style a lot didn't and one day on holiday abroad my friend wanted to see a comedy drag show. As one walked past he touched my hair and I flinched away, and then he said eurgh what's that, is that a wig. I felt really humilated and left after one drink. After that I decided I didn't want to feel that vulnerable again and I needed another operation to correct what was done 10 years ago so I began saving for another 2 years and began looking into which surgeon to pick.
I thought as i'd already had strip surgery done previously and from what I gather it generally gives better yield, then I would be going for a strip procedure. Dr Rahal and Hasson and Wong got a lot of positive feedback on the forums and eventually I decided on Hasson and Wong as they had a lot of great quality photos on their website and forum I could look at. I was concerned about travelling abroad for an operation but i didn't want to risk a substandard operation in the UK so I researched the journey. I planned I could do it in 4 days, fly out on the saturday, have the operation on the monday, and fly home on the tuesday evening. I saw on a website that Dr Hasson was coming to the UK for consultations so I decided to meet with him, the UK consultant David and Joe. I saw a couple of other guys, one who was 8 months post op who was happy with his result, and another considering surgery. I expect they were wondering why I was there as my fringe covered my previous work but when I pulled it all back they saw why. As I have fine hair and had already had two operations Dr Hasson said i'd need 2 surgeries of about 3000 grafts.
I flew up to Vancouver in September, the flight from the UK is about 9 hours. When I got there I looked around the sights on the sunday (very diverse interesting city) and collected tourist information leaflets and thought of possible excursions I could tell work I went on when I returned. I also found a chemist that sold vitamin E oil I could take home with me. I got a taxi to Hasson and Wong's address and Dr Hasson looked at my hairline and drew on a new one and asked if i'd be happy with that. He said my last transplant the hair had been implanted a little too deep so it was more noticable and grafts would be needed to be placed in front to cover the old work. The surgery begins with taking the grafts from the back of the head. It's not that bad really, it hurts a little when they give you the anesthetic shots, but unfortunately I needed to pee really badly near the end and fortunately Dr Hasson sped up a little (phew!). Then i watched a few films as the grafts were cut up and transplanted. Note Lord of the Rings 2 does have a lot of people screaming in it which is possibly not the best film to watch in a surgery, although it did get a few laughs from outside. The surgery was estimated at 2500 grafts to 3000 but Dr Hasson managed to get 3500 as my density was better than expected. This meant that he could do my hair transplant in one session rather than two which I was very pleased about
You get a goodie pack as you leave with post op instructions, antibiotics, a travel pillow, a hat and sleeping tablets in. You also get a tool to remove your staples. I went back the next day to have a hair wash then went with my hat on to get the plane home. I was a little concerned about what would happen at the airport and whether my staples would set off the alarm but they did not. They did want me to remove my hat though but I said i'd just had an operation and she said just lift it a bit, and luckily no-one saw. I was so pleased just to have got the surgery over with so I wasn't so concerned if a stranger saw it by then.
I got home and tried to be as careful as i could with my hair. I slept on my back for 6 nights but after that it was getting too uncomfortable so I went back to sleeping on my front as i usually do. I was careful washing my hair and applied vitamin e oil after to help healing. By day 10 I knew i was safe to wash my hair more throughly and washed it more normally and by 14 I was in the shower as normal. Just to warn you paranoia takes over at this stage, you are constantly paranoid you have lost grafts or it's not growing and this is perfectly normal from what i've read.
I took a month off work and told everyone I was going to Vancouver for that time so I had to invent stories of my travels (if only I could have done half these things). As I had a big fringe, although my hair was shaved at the front, my hair behind hid all the transplanted work so I just continued as normal. I'm glad I took all the time off, but realistically I could have gone back to work after my staples were removed at 2 weeks. The tenderness is still there after 2 weeks though so all in all I was pleased I took the time off. Note for me taking the staples out hurt a lot. I got my dad to do it and although i'd washed my hair, by the time we started it was dry again. I would recommend soaking the scalp in the tub for 10 minutes and doing it immediately after to reduce pain. Once it's over though it's a huge relief and you feel so much more comfortable.
I sort of forgot about things for the next few months until I got to month 4 and noticed after drying my hair it was looking noticably thicker. After that it grew up until month 6, although it is harder to notice when you look at it everyday. At this point I researched new hairstyles as I no longer wanted a long unmanagable fringe and decided upon a short sideswept fringe. Once cut, my hair from the back blended in nicely to my transplanted hair and the work done was pretty much undetectable. My hair looks very full now. I could even spike it up but it may show a little under very harsh light and I don't like it back so decided upon a small fringe. My hair is a lot darker now but I have come to prefer it to highlighted blonde. At first I was very self conscious about displaying my forehead and having a new style but I have had so many comments from people at work and customers who say it looks much better now, that I feel good about the change. Not one person has said I am receeding or made any bald jokes.
So all in all i'm very happy with the results. I think it is very important to pick a good surgeron and although I am still critical of myself, I would go through the whole procedure again in a flash. As for my first surgery 12 years ago i'm not sure if it was worth it, but I never would have suited having a shaved head as my foreheads very wide so I didn't have many options. I'm now 31 and instead of being completely bald as was first predicted I now have a full head of hair